Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Without Christ

Christmas Without Christ
Through our naked eyes, we could see that Christmas Season is the brightest and most colorful season of the year, but in spiritual sense, Christmas Season and its spiritual significance could be obscured by carnal hearts of men.

Right heart with God and an in-depth study of the Scriptures make a man to be more appreciative of the true essence of Christmas.

Christmas is C-hrist’s H-istoric, R-emarkable I-ncarnation S-tory, T-elling M-essiah’s A-waited S-alvation.

Every Christmas Season people are deeply engaged in the affairs of the world without realizing Christ’s remarkable visit to sinful men. Truly, lack of interest on spiritual things and an indifferent attitude toward God’s Word can lead people to carnality and pride.

Sometimes we ask these thought-stirring questions to ourselve: Does Christmas Season really help people draw closer to God or to gold? Does Christmas Season lead us to the Word or to the world? Does Christmas Season make a Christian spiritual or carnal?

We must realize that Christmas is a great reminder to us all, and we strongly believe that this season is a great help for spiritual Christians to grow in the knowledge of the Lord and become stronger.

As we go through this well-celebrated season, may we not forget “the most special person of the season” which is the Lord Jesus Christ. Bear in mind that “Christmas without Christ is a mess.”

MESS: M-essiah’s unrecognized significance (Luke 2:1-6), E-arthly affairs (Luke 2:7; 1 John 2:15-17), S-piritual confusion (Matthew 2:3-7), S-piritual poverty (Matthew 2:13-18; Revelation 3:17-22).

As we enjoy the Season, may we not overlook the spiritual significance of Christmas. Have a merry Christmas not a messy X’mas. It is a blessing to celebrate Christmas in the center of God’s will and to experience the spiritual richness of the birth of Jesus, which is the Savior of the world. —Jose Cabajar

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20 KJV)

Blessed Christmas 2015

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government 
shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called 
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, 
Prince of Peace. 

Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)

Friday, December 18, 2015

Ink Spots

Ink Spots
Several months ago while doing our laundry I accidentally left an ink pen in one of my pockets. When I opened the door on the clothes dryer I saw bright blue ink all over the white laundry! The inside of the dryer was a disaster! I think it was a brand new pen; and the ink went everywhere! Even now I see the results of my simple mistake; ink spots remain on our laundry.

Likely you have heard someone sarcastically say “What I do is my own business; it’s no concern of yours.” That is not usually true. What we do affects others. If we sin, it touches the lives of those around us, just as the ink from one single pen went on most of the laundry.

In Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth he explained the seriousness of immoral behavior (1 Corinthians 5:1-13). Within these verses we find this statement. “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?" (verse 6 NKJ). Just as a little yeast spreads, so does our sin. Sin may not be as easy to see as blue ink; but it leaves stains that only the blood of Christ can remove. Laundry can always be replaced; the closet of your mind will hold your choices for a life time. Pam Ford Davis

Friday, December 11, 2015

Lentil Stew

And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Genesis 25:34a ESV)

Lentil Stew
“Rinse and drain the dry lentils.”

“In a saucepan combine the lentils, chicken broth, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, celery, parsley, basil, garlic, and pepper.”

“Simmer for 45-50 minutes until lentils and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.”

That is the recipe for easy lentil stew by Mimi in Maine at With the weather turning colder by the day, taking lentil stew is a good way to warm us up, especially when we are famished.

Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came back from the field (probably after hunting) and was famished. He said to Jacob to let him eat some of the stew because he was exhausted. We know the rest of the story, how Jacob struck a deal with Esau and how Esau disregarded his birthright and gave it up for bread and lentil stew (Genesis 25:29-34).

Perhaps we might think of Esau as being foolish, but aren’t we sometimes like him? Do we not on occasions give up what is more important in exchange for something we long for or covet? What is the ‘lentil stew’ in our life that we are willing to let go our birthright to a closer relationship with God or even our faith? Is it our desires, our job, our preoccupations or even our loved ones? Whatever keeps us from God or a closer walk with Him is the ‘lentil stew’ we need to let go.

Many of us hunt to achieve our goals, but at the end of it all we find ourselves totally exhausted. We think to ourselves, “Surely there must be more to life than just these!”

Are we famished with desire to live out a more meaningful life? The pursuit of earthly satisfaction can never fill our heart’s emptiness for the One who created us, whose love for us knows no bounds. He is the One who willingly left His place in heaven, gave up His life and rose again so that we might call God, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6).

Whatever things were gain to us, therefore, let us now count as loss for the sake of Christ because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord. In our labor and hard work, let us be found in Him not having a righteousness of our own, but through faith in Christ experience the power of His resurrection (Philippians 3:7-11).

Dear Lord, thank You for reminding us what is more important than our work, our desires, our preoccupations or even our loved ones. Help us always to put You first in all areas of our life so that we might find true satisfaction in fulfilling Your will. Abba, Father, thank You for giving us Your Son so that we are able to experience the power of His resurrection through the indwelling of Your Holy Spirit in us. Renew in us a greater desire for our birthright to a closer relationship with You, for we long to know Christ Jesus our Lord and to become more like Him.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Irritable Syndrome

As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves! (Galatians 5:12 NIV)

Irritable Syndrome
Constant chattering or nagging jar the ears and grate on nerves, and we have probably known or met such people before. Loving them is difficult because they annoy us, provoke us and irritate us. At times, we wish such people would leave us alone or go away to debilitate themselves because their incessant chatter bothers us day after day.

The Bible records many accounts of people who have been vexed by others. Hannah was provoked bitterly by her rival to irritate her because the LORD had closed her womb. Samson was prodded by Delilah’s nagging day after day until he was sick to death of it. The apostle Paul was greatly annoyed for days by the shouting of a female slave who had a spirit. The Galatia church was faced with agitators whom Paul wished would emasculate themselves (1 Samuel 1:6; Judges 16:16; Acts 16:16-18; Galatians 5:12).

Notwithstanding the fact that we face difficult people all the time, we ought also to examine ourselves to see if we are the cause of agitation to others. Some of the ways to avoid vexing others are found in the advice within the following Bible verses:

Lazy people irritate their employers, like vinegar to the teeth or smoke in the eyes. (Proverbs 10:15 NLT)
And you, fathers, do not irritate your children, but bring them up tenderly with true Christian training and advice. (Ephesians 6:4 WNT)

By God’s amazing grace and love, we can ask Him to give us His same spirit of love. This love does not act rudely or unbecomingly. It does not demand its own way and is not irritable. It does not keep a record of being wronged (1 Corinthians 13:5).

Are we constantly chattering and nagging? Are we lazy at work or frequently telling our kids what they should do? Are we finding it hard to love the unlovable? Are we filled full in the Spirit of God and seeking God’s enabling to grow in love for others?
Like David, let us ask the Lord to test and try us, and to examine our heart and our mind to always be mindful of God’s unfailing love, and live in reliance on His faithfulness (Psalm 26:2-3).

Dear Lord, You know the condition of our heart, how much we can love. You also know how we sometimes react to those who agitate us. Grant us by Your Spirit a heart and spirit to love the way You love, even those who are unlovable by human standards. Remind us to always examine ourselves not to irritate others by our nagging, unceasing chatter or inconsiderate manners, but be mindful of Your unfailing love and faithfulness.

Friday, November 27, 2015


a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak. (Ecclesiastes 3:7 NIV)
In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV)

Thanks Living
According to tradition, when the New England settlers met with many difficulties and hardships, they often fasted and prayed for long periods of time. They had invested their all, to come to a country of religious freedom. Their dependence upon God was very real.

The time of first harvest, such as it was, had come. Another fast was called. One of the farmers stood, and pointed out that God had seen them through so many trials, when things could have been much worse. He then, pointed out that they had achieved the very thing that that came for, religious freedom! He then suggested that a day of gratitude would be a far greater gift to God, than bombarding Him with more and more of their desires. Thanksgiving Day was then established.

How many times do we pour out our hearts to God, He answers, and we go merrily on our way? Do we ever spend the time in praise that we do in asking?

This Thanksgiving, let’s give our God and Savior, a full heart of praise. We may have had problems this past year, but we have been led through both the joys and valleys!

As we eat an abundance of food, this Thanksgiving Day, let’s let our praises rise!

Thanksgiving Day is not the turkey,
Nor the table laded with good food.
It’s the lifting of a thankful heart
To our God, who supplies all things good! Verna Mull

Our most precious Heavenly Father, You have supplied all of our needs, our requests, and much more than we have even asked. We have seen you touch friends and heal them, bringing others to receive Your salvation. We have seen You convict and change many lives, and yes, You have convicted me, and helped me to realize that I am absolutely nothing without You. Today, I praise you from the bottom of my heart for Who You are! You are the Author and Finisher of our faith. You are the Creator, Sustainer, and Satisfier of my soul. You are the Great I AM! You are the Beginning and the End, and more than we can even name. You are, THE NAME. Take my life and help me to show forth Your praise to all that I meet. Father, I simply want to Thank You! Amen. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Blessed Thanksgiving 2015

You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the 
hard pathways overflow with abundance.

Psalm 65:11 (NLT)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Reduced to Naught

and the things which the world regards as base, and those which it sets utterly at nought—things that have no existence—God has chosen in order to reduce to nothing things that do exist; (1 Corinthians 1:28 WNT)

Reduced to Naught
I have constantly been posting Christian inspiration images on the social media for some years, and have noticed that there has been an increase in people giving up their belief in God or His existence. On a number of occasions when I shared images about God is in control or God cares for us, for example, I would receive feedback from people commenting that God does not exist or that He does not care or answer prayers. I can understand how they feel because I have been there before. Where was God when we needed Him most? Why did He not meet our needs even when we have reached total deprivation, unable to provide for our loved ones or self?

To many people, it is foolishness to see us continuing to believe in God when things are not going well or when God is seemingly withholding His blessings from us during desperate times and need. The truth is, more often than not, it is during our weakest point that we realize we can do nothing by our own effort. Only then do we turn to God as our provider and understand His unmerited favor and grace on us, a humbling process that breaks down every of our confidence to reduce to nothing what the world considers important (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).

Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24 ESV)

Unless we give up our confidence in self, our own effort, the things of this world or the things we sowed, we cannot bear much fruit. If we wish to live the life God has intended for us or to follow His will, we need to let go our own self-confidence and put our complete trust in God. For we have need of endurance, so that when we have done the will of God, we may receive what was promised. Therefore, do not throw away our confidence in God, which has a great reward (Hebrews 10:35-36).

Dear Lord, help us to regain our confidence in You, for we have struggled and known what it is like to be totally helpless without You. In our despair, do not let us wander away or give up trusting You. Meet us at our weakest point when our confidence in self and the world is reduced to nothing, that we may through realizing Your unmerited favor return to You.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Chills and Hails

He sends the snow like white wool; he scatters frost upon the ground like ashes. He hurls the hail like stones. Who can stand against his freezing cold? (Psalm 147:16-17 NLT)

Chills and Hails
Not everyone likes the cold that comes with winter. But for some of us, it is the best time of the year to go up to the mountains for some fun sports and other activities. Others, however, prefer to stay in the comfort of the indoors. How we choose to enjoy our winter is of course entirely up to us.

For most of us, the season of chills and hails are not something we appreciate. Yet in Psalm 147, we are called to praise and glorify God who sends the snow, scatters frost upon the ground, and hurls hail stones amid freezing cold. The psalmist exemplifies such cold and harsh weather as a period of rebuilding. When it is over, at God’s command, the snow and the frost melt; He sends His winds, and the ice thaws (Psalm 147:16-18).

Are we facing a time of cold and harsh in our life? If we are, do not fret, because such a time is for building us up and is temporal. The time will come when the LORD will restore what we have lost and heal us from our wounds (Joel 2:25-26; Psalm 147:3). 

Dear Lord, we know in every season of our lives, there will always be lessons we can learn through the chills and hails. Help us recognize Your care in the midst of the cold and harsh in facing our storms so that we are able to continue to praise You. Heal and restore us from the years of our lost that we might once again rise up and not be ashamed.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Information versus Transformation

As the body without the Spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (James 2:26 NIV)

Information versus Transformation
A fiery (but not too wise) preacher was pelted with stones after he preached the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) to hungry slum dwellers, “… blessed are the poor … blessed are those who hunger and thirst …” It is for such that Paul agonized, "Oh, my dear children! I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives," (Galatians 4:19).

Many people know the truth about Jesus Christ and agree with the teachings. They delight in the information they receive in a purely academic way. This is referred to as intellectual assent. Faith based on intellectual assent is not complete. It is only when you take this information and it becomes part and parcel of your life that you become a true believer. You commit to trust the Lord and apply the truth you have learned about Christ to transform your life. It is not enough to know and believe that vitamins are good for you; you have to actually take them for them to work in you. If you cannot help those it is within your power to help, then your faith is hollow. While deeds do not bestow salvation, they are a verification of our faith.

Do you have true faith or do you have faith that is merely intellectual?

True faith feels empathy and kindness. It is based on wisdom, a sign of mature faith. You cannon have true faith and continue to live the same worldly way. You are transformed to become “… pure; then peace loving, considerate, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:13) Wangari Murathe

Friday, October 30, 2015

Independence is Not an Option

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16-17 ESV)

Independence is Not an Option
It sometimes seems like we wear our independence on our sleeve almost as though trying to say we can do whatever we wish because of our cherished freedoms. Unfortunately, too often we do end up doing whatever we wish, to our own detriment. Independence from tyranny, oppression, and domination is laudable when we are discussing how best to shape a society, but to assert our independence from the One who made us is foolhardy at best and dangerous on many levels.

Why is it impossible to be independent from God? One little word found at the end of Colossians 1:17- 'consist'. When looking for the dictionary definition of a word, the first definition you come across indicates the most common usage. In the case of consist, the most common usage is "to be composed or made of', indicating that all things are made of Christ. That sounds more like pantheism than orthodox Christianity. But one of the archaic definitions of the word reads "to be held together", indicating that God takes an active role in the universe He created. Far from being the Prime Mover who sets the universe in motion and then sits back to watch it spin, He is involved on a moment-by-moment basis maintaining the universe.

If God in Christ is holding the universe together, then there is no such thing as independence from God. We are all terribly dependent upon Him. Even an atheist can't get away from it. If God were to remove His hand from us, we would wither up and be blown away by the next strong breeze. So the best we can do is assert a false, fragile independence. But the paradox here is that the more independently we act, the weaker we become. Only by acknowledging our dependence upon God can our crippled bones be made strong.

"How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings." (Psalm 36:7) Bill Schwan

Friday, October 23, 2015

In the Place of God

And Joseph said unto them, fear not: for am I not in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me: but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. (Genesis 50:19-20 KJV)

In the Place of God
Have you ever crossed paths with someone that got a kick out of your apparent demise? They felt like they had the upper hand and watched with sadistic humor, as everything seemed to be crumbling around you? They waved a sense of control before you as if they were in charge of what happened in your life? They thought they controlled you with money, or past secrets?

I have! I’ve come face to face with people who acted as if they had control over the destiny of my life and the lives of my family. They liked to rub in our faces the fact that they held the switch – or so they thought!

You see when the enemy laughs in your face! When the enemy attempts to do you harm! When those around you cannot possibly wrap their head around how you can be so calm when everything around you seems to be falling apart – you can stand with resolute assurance and proclaim: I AM IN THE PLACE OF GOD!

I am here to tell you many will not understand and many will mock your resolution, but when you know deep within that you are walking in DIVINE PROVIDENCE and ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WILL HAPPEN IN YOUR LIFE WITHOUT GOD’S COMMAND, then as the enemy has their last laugh, you will know that the last laugh will be on them!

Regardless of how dark the prison may be! Regardless of how everything around you seems to be falling apart! Regardless of how nothing seems to work in your favor – I encourage you today – DO NOT GIVE UP! Everything is going to turn around – just like it did for Joseph! His brothers who intended to do him harm – and thought evil against him – ended up on the other side of the table! 


Lord God Almighty! Thank You today for Your Word! Thank You for Your divine protection in the places that are not always pleasant to our human nature! Thank You for guiding every step – even though those around us shake their head in confusion! Thank You Lord for not leaving us when we were thrown to the lions – and thank You for walking in the midst of the fiery furnace with us! Thank You Lord the assurance that we are IN THE PLACE OF GOD! We thank You for the souls that will be reached and the lives that will be touched and we GIVE YOU ALL THE GLORY IN EVERY SITUATION! KNOWING THAT YOU ALWAYS TAKE WHAT THE ENEMY INTENDS FOR EVIL AND TURN OUT PURE GOLD! 

We love You today and we praise You and we give you all the glory! AMEN! Jounda LaMance

Friday, October 16, 2015

In The Eyes of God

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. (Mathew 16:18 RSV)

In the Eyes of God
Who are you? A simple enough question. Are you an engineer? A priest? A corporate mongrel that delights himself when saying, “I am a partner and a CEO to one of the most lucrative realist ate company out there.” Are you a mom or dad; or a teacher even? It might be true that these are one of the roles you play in today’s society because these are your job titles. But does your job really define who you are? Even a prostitute will say she is much more than who society regards her to be. And so you, the engineer, are there not more to your being … to your soul? Is that how you would want God to see you?

The answer is of course, "No!" 

Who we are as human beings has to be greater than what is defined by our work. We must be the flesh and blood of a caring being. We are children of God who loves and nurtures; we are a strong spirit and a humble servant to the Lord, and an example to our human family. Would you like to know how God sees us?

In God’s eyes, you are:

  • God’s very own son or daughter, a child of the King. ( Romans 8:15-16)
  • a CHRISTian, called by God’s own name. (1Corinthians 1:2;Acts 15.14) 
  • a Saint, set apart by God unto Himself. (Philip 3:20)
  • a citizen of God’s Kingdom of Heaven, and a tourist on Planet Earth. (2Corinthians 5:20a)
  • God’s Ambassador to present His terms of peace to Planet Earth. (2Corinthians 5:20a)
  • Planet Earth’s Priest to stand in the gap and plead for mercy at God’s throne. (1Pet. 2:5) 

CHRISTian! God’s child! Saint! Ambassador! Priest! Citizen of heaven!

Ah, you are so greatly blessed, but your responsibilities are awesome beyond comprehension. In Christ’s name, do them well. Amen. Mai-Anh Le

Friday, October 9, 2015

If Tomorrow Starts Without Me

If Tomorrow Starts Without Me
One day it will actually happen. There will be no more sunrises. No more days, weeks, our months. Time, as we know it, will be no more. Every earthly possession that we hold dear, will one day vanish. Just like the magician who opens all sides of the box, as the audience peers through a vacant square of nothingness.

Any wealth, fame or power that we may have acquired along the way will have no significance whatsoever. It will all be meaningless.

Isaiah spoke the word of the Lord concerning this coming reality when he said:

“The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. (Isaiah 65:17).

Can you even imagine not being able to recall anything of your life while you existed on earth? Well that’s exactly what this verse is saying. The former things will not be remembered or even come to mind.

Whenever I read this verse it’s as if my life suddenly becomes surreal. I begin to see myself as here, but at the same time NOT here. I momentarily have an “all systems” shut down, as my thoughts are transported outside of myself while viewing all things present as nothing more than an after thought.

I don’t say these things lightly, or in anyway attempt to put a damper on whoever happens to be reading these lines. I simply share these thoughts as a reminder of just how temporary this whole thing called life really is!

For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanishes away (James 4:14).

It is true that we came into this world with nothing and it is certain that we will leave the same way. So what is it that really matters?

There’s a well known saying that has circulated for years and it goes like this:

Soon this life as we know it shall pass,
Only what’s done for Jesus will last.

There it is. Perhaps as we consider that everything we see now with our natural eyes will one day pass away, we can than begin to rightly prioritize our lives in light of eternal significance. We must allow Christ to be so completely and thoroughly formed in us that all that remains is the manifestation of His Glory!

For in the end, that will be the only thing that truly matters.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18). Missey Butler

Friday, October 2, 2015

In His Hands

In His Hands
I cannot alter my past through memories I replay, and I confess the impossibility of controlling my future. God is sovereign, lifts the burden of anxiety from my shoulders, shelters from self-sabotage and draws me up into his mighty arms. I am not alone in my desire to harness memories; the Apostle Paul made a conscious effort to dwell not on the past.

“Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14 RSV).” He did not claim spiritual perfection; instead, he kept reaching toward the ultimate goal. Jesus had a firm hold on Paul. 

What memories did the past hold? Like many, Paul had things he rejoiced in and things for which he held resentments or remorse. As a Jew, Paul had been the cream of the crop, raised in an orthodox family, taught by a leading Rabi and held the honor of being a Roman citizen. If only … Paul in his religious zeal to uphold religious standards persecuted the church.

He pushed persecution to the limits, stood in agreement as an accomplice to Stephen’s undeserved death by stoning. After the apostles’ miraculous conversion on a Damascus road Paul experienced both blessings and great suffering. He could empathize with anyone who experienced hardship and endured in trials and afflictions.

“Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one-I am talking like a madman-with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times, I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure (2 Corinthians 11:23-27 RSV).” His faith sustained him. 

I have a “past.” God blessed me to see “today;” God holds the “future” in his hands. Pam Ford Davis

Friday, September 25, 2015

If Tomorrow Never Comes

for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:2 NIV)

If Tomorrow Never Comes
I was walking home from work the other day; ear buds in my ears; Pandora running on my phone; rocking out to Christian rock when the words to the chorus, “If Tomorrow Never Comes” filled my head. It had been a long time since I had given it any thought. Talk of this question usually put me into panic mode, “Are you ready?” “Where are you spending eternity?” “If Jesus were to come right now would He take you with Him?” On this day, however, I experienced something else; a different emotion consumed my heart; joy. There was not any despair, worry, or fear on this day, instead I was filled with the joy of being absolutely, positively, one hundred percent sure of my answer; I will be with my Lord when He returns, Amen. 

Are you filled with the joy of assurance of your eternity? Do you walk, talk, and live like there is no bout a doubt where you are spending eternity? Today is the day to begin because we “know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” We know that the day of our Lord’s return will be soon; as a matter of fact a major factor in experiencing this joy and peace is the anticipation of His return. Like my grandson waits eagerly each afternoon for the return of his parents; so also should we wait excitedly and anxiously for the return of our Lord. Live each and every day as “If Tomorrow Never Comes.” Keith Henry

Friday, September 18, 2015

Renewed Minds

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2 NIV)

Renewed Minds
Our vacation was coming to an end and we were feeling a little dampened in spirit at the thought of going back to work and living our stressful lives all over again. Nevertheless, my wife and I did our last minute shopping for gifts to bring home to our family members, colleagues and friends before we began packing our luggage. 

The journey home was a long haul and we were not particularly excited about it. We knew, however, a retreat of two weeks in a year was as good as we could get to spend time together—free from stress, the routines and the mundane, the troubles in life and the unforeseeable. What lies ahead in the days and months to come is not something for us to worry about.

Like many of us, Jacob probably had a similar feeling of reluctance to return home, but not because of work. It was because of Esau, his brother, who had sworn to kill him for stealing his birthright. Nevertheless, Jacob obeyed the Lord and brought his family home with him, along with plenty of gifts for Esau. We know the rest of the story, how Esau eventually forgave Jacob. (Gen 27:41; 32:13-15; 33:4; 35:27)

Are we worried, stressed out or afraid of what lies ahead? Have our time away from home drawn us closer to God or further away? Are we refreshed or feeling more tired than before our getaway? Are our minds renewed to stand up to greater challenges? Are our hearts all about ourselves while away or do we spare some thought for the people we know and loved to want to give good gifts to them?

Jacob returned home a changed man after he wrestled and had a close encounter with God. No doubt, a short vacation is not going to change a whole lot how we see things, but surely we must have seen some things we do not get to see this side of earth. Scenery and cultural practices, for example, are areas we can let God open our eyes to see things beyond the mundane and to learn from Him His perspective.

With the renewing of our minds, we can be made new in our attitude how we think about things, know and experience what it means to trust God absolutely. For as long as our lives are in the hands of God and our purpose is to do His will, we need not worry about tomorrow. He who satisfies our desires with good things is able to renew our youth like the eagle that we might be able to work at whatever we do with all our heart for the Lord. (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23; Matthew 6:33-34; Psalm 103:5; Colossians 3:23)

Dear Lord, thank You for granting us a time of retreat to renew our attitude of how we think about things and to draw closer to You. Remind us while we are away from home not to only think of ourselves but to think of others too, especially the people we know and loved. Help us put our complete trust in You, knowing that as long as our lives are in Your hands and our purpose is to do Your will, we need not worry about tomorrow. Renew our youth like the eagle to work with all our heart at whatever we do for You. Open our eyes to see beyond the mundane to learn from You and understand Your perspective so we might not be dampened in spirit but be renewed with joy to rest in You. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

If You Are Willing

A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said. Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed. (Mark 1:40-42 NLT)

If You Are Willing
This scripture shows a man who has no hope finding the only real hope in the world and asking Him a question that we often take for granted. We very seldom ask God if He is willing to do what we pray for. Instead we demand that He take action in our situation.

I often wonder if we realize that saying no is still an action but the no is His will for our lives. It’s not the answer we want from a God who we have chosen to worship and it is probably why individuals chose to walk away from Him. Many times we take for granted that what we want is what God has in store for us. In the case of the leper; it might not have been in God’s plan and yet He showed compassion and brought healing. That is not something unusual, God has done it before. He allowed King Hezekiah and additional 15 years of life.

The problem is we often forget the blessings He has already given us. Instead of looking at what He has already done we expect Him to do more.

I know that is a hard pill to swallow but God is sovereign His ways are not our ways and everything He allows is with a purpose to bring Him Glory. Jesus is willing to answer your prayers; but what you may desire is not in His will, for your life. Will you still trust Him? The man came begging and was unsure of the answer he would receive have we reached a point where we are truly begging God or are we still demanding God do something. There is a great difference in the two. I pray God gives you an open heart and mind as you walk in the light of His Word. Rev Brian Mathis

Friday, September 4, 2015


Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; (Ephesians 5:6-7 NAS)

Hoodwinked While visiting Huangshan in China, we were brought to a jewelry shop by the tour manager. A rectangular piece of raw jade interest me, but having no knowledge how to see or check the quality of jade, I sought the help of the tour manager. He assured me all items in the shop were of good quality because the shop had been endorsed by the tourism board. Back at home, I took the piece of jade to a jewelry shop to make into a frame pendant, but the jeweler told me it would not be worth my while because the ‘jade’ is a fake.

As tourists, many of us have been deceived by promoters into purchasing things of little worth. More often than not, by the time we discover the real worth of what had been purchased, it was already too late for us to go back to the place we made the purchase to seek a refund.

The Bible warns us not to let anyone deceive us with empty words or be partakers with those who deceive others for dishonest gain, for because of such things God’s wrath has come upon the disobedient (Ephesians 5:6-7).

As businessmen, entrepreneurs, employers, employees, bread winners or one trying to earn a living, have we been partakers of dishonest dealings? Do we frequently or infrequently oversell our or our employer’s products or services to close a deal and earn our share of the profit? Do we sometimes speak a lie or half-truth just in order to secure a purchase?

Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies last only a moment before getting exposed. If we devise evil, deceit is in our hearts, but joy fills those who plan for peace. If we live amid deception, in deceit we are refusing to acknowledge God. Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware, the smooth words from lips speak deceit from a wicked heart. If our lips disguises the truth, we are not much different from those who hate and lay up deceit within the heart (Proverbs 12:19-20, 26:23; Jeremiah 9:6).

No one who practices deceit will dwell in the house of God and no one who speaks lies will stand in His presence. Hear, therefore, what the Lord Almighty is saying, for behold He will refine and test us (Psalm 101:7, Jeremiah 9:7).

Dear Lord, forgive us for the times we fall short in telling the whole truth, just in order to gain a sale or close a deal. Help us never to be dishonest in our dealings with other people and to forgive those who deal dishonestly with us. Refine and test us whenever we have in mind and at heart to lay up deceit, that we may in Your guidance and love be directed to the right path.

Friday, August 28, 2015

If My People

If my people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV)

If My People
When the tiny word “if” is spoken in a sentence it gives the meaning that something "could" happen. “If” is strictly a word based on a condition or stipulation. Here in this part of the country, we might say if we do “thus and so” then “this and that” just might happen! 

But as far as God is concerned, there’s a lot hinging upon the little word “if.” God says that if His people will humble themselves in prayer, seek His face and turn from their wicked ways, He will forgive their sins and their land will be healed. All of a sudden, the little word “if” seems to have graduated from a tiny word to a big stipulation. 

Beloved, the floodgates of heaven are bursting at the seams, but our nation must come to repentance before great things can happen. Repentance has to be done before this land can be healed and blessings to flow. To put it in simple terms, the slates of our hearts must be wiped clean and it can only be done through humbling ourselves before Almighty God. Our nation needs to repent because our sins are many.

What is repentance? It’s simply asking God for forgiveness from all sins and wrongdoing. It takes only simple, uncomplicated words that even a child can say. Repentance is not a suggestion, but a command. In fact, Jesus preached repentance on a regular basis (Matthew 4:17). 

Romans 10:9-10 gives us instructions on repentance: 

(9) That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (10) For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."

Repentance is the first step to take at the time of salvation. Without it, trying to be a Believer, will not and cannot happen. Believing with your heart brings justification, and then confessing with your mouth that you are indeed saved and that you believe it.

One religion teaches that as long as you do good works it makes up for all wrong deeds. There’s another religion that says you must fast to make up for all sin, but we can look at Scripture and see clearly what God’s way is and that we're not saved by our own works, but by grace.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)

We must go to the Father and ask for forgiveness and He will be faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Have you ever thought how repulsive sin truly is? Are you appalled by the sin and evil that is so evident in our nation? Evil is increasing in our land on a daily basis and seems to be more rampant as time goes by. The newspapers and newscasts are full of one report after another of murders, child molestation, rapes, robberies and many other crimes.

Sin tastes terrible. It smells disgusting. It looks despicable. Nothing feels good about it. Nothing “is” good about it. Sin has an allurement for a season and from there spirals down into darkness. The enemy will set a trap to snag his prey. If we could see from a spiritual standpoint how sordid sin truly is, we would never touch it and would be so repulsed by it, that we would run from it every time it rears its ugly head. Scripture tells us we're to avoid every type of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22).

The Apostle Paul said to turn to God in repentance and have faith in the Lord Jesus (Acts 20:21). We must turn away from all evil and seek God to help us walk down the path of righteousness, doing our best for Him every day.

For me personally, I want the Master Potter to mold and shape me like never before. In order for the Holy Spirit to do that, He must reveal my secret sins. If I feel the wooing of the Holy Spirit revealing things He sees in my heart not pleasing to Him, I must confess them. If I hold off and do not humble myself before God, I will not go further in my experience with him. I could become cold and possibly lose out with God. With that thought, I have to say as the Apostle Paul did: “God forbid!”

It’s important to remember that we must not quench the Spirit when sin is pointed out to us (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Never think for a moment that the Holy Spirit stands over us with a whip, but gently in His infinite love, points to those things not pleasing. When that happens in my life, I’ll have an overflow of tears. Those times usually come in quiet moments when it’s just God and me.

We have a High Priest, Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of the Father, waiting to hear us call upon His name in prayer. He longs for us to come, humbling ourselves in repentance so He can cleanse us and make us pure. If you have never done so, run into His arms now! He is waiting for you.

May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Danna Appleby

Father, we come to You humbly repenting of our sins. We sometimes do things, have thoughts and say things that are not what Christ would do or say. Cleanse us and make us pure and holy in Your sight. Make us into the one You want us to be as we look full in Your wonderful face. Father, purify us so that we can serve You with our whole heart. We give ourselves totally to You and run into Your arms this moment and are grateful for Your forgiveness and mercy. Where would we be without it? Heal our land now Father, heal our land. We cry for mercy and ask that you forgive this nation for sins that are overtaking us and ask You to change the hearts of our people. Help our nation to turn back to God. In Your Son’s name. Amen.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Top Tourist Attractions

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:20 NAS)

Top Tourist Attractions
Top holiday destinations around the world have been named and renamed almost every year. Of the world’s 50 most visited tourist attractions, Las Vegas Strip, New York City’s Times Square, Central Park and Grand Central Terminal, the Niagara Falls and DisneyWorld Orlando were among the top ten listed in an article of February 26, 2014 at

A number of years before that, the Pyramids of Giza, Big Ben in London, Roman Coliseum in Rome, Eiffel Tower in Paris, Grand Canyon in Arizona, Statue of Liberty in New York City and the Niagara Falls were ranked the top ten, according to an article of March 28, 2012 at Notwithstanding that Niagara Falls often come in top ten of tourist attractions list, it is no wonder visits to the American Falls and Canadian Falls are popular with tourists.

Like many tourists, among the first things my wife and I would do when we arrive at the hotel of our holiday destination is to find out the local attractions of the place. Given that they are tourist attractions, there is almost always no chance to have private moments to admire the place or to take photographs without the crowd in them. All we could do is just to appreciate the experience in our hearts and minds, although on occasions we may perform a little magic with the help of photo editing applications to lift off unwanted objects from pictures.

When we travel to our holiday destinations, do we ask ourselves the reason for our travel? Are we on a holiday to catch some rest, to cover as many tourist attractions as possible or to admire the works of God? Is our holiday a time to free ourselves from God and man, or a time to renew our spirit to appreciate more of God’s handiwork and the God-given works of people who made artifacts of wonder?

Visiting places of natural wonders like the Niagara Falls or the Grand Canyon can help us liberate our minds not to limit what God can do (for us). Seeing and understanding artifacts like the pyramids, Big Ben, Roman Coliseum, Eiffel Tower, and the Statue of Liberty help us not limit ourselves to what God can do through us when we work together for His purpose. For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen and understood through what has been made (Romans 1:20).

Rather than keeping away from God or trying a little magic of our own to avoid or stay away from people during our holidays, let us with renewed minds see beyond the invisible attributes of God. If we would just pay a little more attention, we would see His handiwork and the works of the God-given.

Dear Lord, thank You for the many tourist attractions around the world that declare Your handiwork and showcase the works of the God-given. Your amazing works have opened our eyes to see greater things are yet to come, and opened our hearts to trust You to lead us beyond our own abilities. You alone are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive all glory, honor and power, for by You all things were created and because of Your will, they existed. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Setting Captives Free Quits

Setting Captives Free repents of focus on sin and repentance...
by Tim Bayly on August 17, 2015 - 4:17pm

The problem with my original writings was the focus on sin, the labeling of people according to their sin, the sharing and discussing of sin, and the constant reminders of the sin. This is Old Covenant law-oriented, problem-focused doctrine and not according to biblical truth, and it hurt many people to whom I’ve recently been apologizing.

- Mike Cleveland, announcing his repudiation of thirteen years of work with Setting Captives Free
Setting Captives FreeOne change in the past quarter-century that has been terribly destructive within the Church and Her households is the ubiquity of the internet through smartphones, tablets, and laptops. These tools have enabled the private consumption of horrendous moral filth and Christian men and (increasingly) women have found this wickedness almost irresistible. The percentage of young Christian men who have succumbed to internet fornication on a regular basis is likely close to ninety percent, and now women have joined men and are consuming thirty percent of the internet filth.

At Clearnote, we've given ourselves to working closely with men and women repenting of this sin. A critical part of our work with those repenting of this sin is that each man and woman has been required to enroll in an internet discipleship program called Setting Captives Free (SCF).

For this reason we were quite sad to be notified recently by several men of our congregation that SCF is now repudiating and will no longer be offering their former courses, including the Way of Purity (for heterosexuals who are struggling with sexual sin) and Door of Hope (for homosexuals in the same position). After a preliminary investigation, one of our elders wrote "it would appear [they] are watering down the gospel by shifting focus away from sin and the need to repent from it."

We contacted SCF to express our concern and this was their...


From: SettingCaptiveFree Support [
Sent: Wednesday, August 12, 2015 11:07 PM
To: [John Doe]
Subject: RE: Ticket: [_____]


Thank you for the kind and encouraging words.  We will pass them on to the Board of Directors for their consideration.

We do apologize for your disappointment in the upcoming change to the Setting Captives Free ministry. Most of the current course materials will still be available in a printed format through Focus Publishing and other online retailers such as,, etc.

Below are some thought from Mike Cleveland specifically explaining more behind the Boards reasons for changing to the new ministry format; we hope you will find them helpful.

Thank you for writing. I appreciate your comments. I’ve wrestled through this issue too, as you might imagine. It wasn’t easy, and I’m happy to share some of my findings and realizations with you. The Board of Directors did pray a lot about this very issue too.

The reason that Setting Captives Free had to go was because it was flawed. The problem with my original writings was the focus on sin, the labeling of people according to their sin, the sharing and discussing of sin, and the constant reminders of the sin. This is Old Covenant law-oriented, problem-focused doctrine and not according to biblical truth, and it hurt many people to whom I’ve recently been apologizing. Setting Captives Free had to go because it was like any typical program that started with people’s sin and gave them principles to apply to be free. This is typical behaviorism, “put off-put on” type of an approach. It was very much like the law, which contained principles for living, instructions for directing our lives, and yet it actually sent people away from God for they were unable to be perfect through the law. The gospel, on the other hand, draws us to God where we find real intimacy:

18 For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. Hebrews 7:18-19 (NASB)

I also mistakenly taught principles at Setting Captives Free that were not contextually biblical, that were law based and rules oriented. Let me give you one example. The principle of radical amputation which comes from Matthew 5. The statements of Christ in Matthew 5 were not designed to be a principle for freedom, but rather to show us the extent we would have to go, the radical things we would have to do (cut off our arm and pluck out our eye), if wanting to be righteous under the Law. That is one example of a passage taken entirely out of context and made to say something the passage did not teach.

At Gospel Growth Ministries we are bringing in a better hope, through which we draw near to God. It is the method Christians have used for thousands of years to bring hope and freedom to others.

While you have found the material to be helpful, we have had numerous Setting Captives Free mentors say things such as this, “I am so thankful to be out from under the sin focus, the old covenant focus, and under the new gospel ministry. I had heartburn after about 2 years mentoring over there, and was considering leaving, and now I’m delighted to see that the problems have been fixed and the focus is right.”

It is a fairly common thing for people to think that they must have help for their specific sin, in their timeframe, in the manner they think they need it. A case in point is Naaman (2 Kings 5) who came to Elisha because he had leprosy, and he expected specific help from the man of God, and he had certain expectations of exactly how that help should come.

Yet the man of God did not do as Naaman expected nor required; he had Naaman do something very humbling instead, sending him off to dunk in the Jordan river 7 times. What did dunking in a muddy river have to do with curing leprosy? The two seemed unrelated. Here was Naaman’s response:

Naaman replied, “11 But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage.”

We might imagine Naaman saying “I came here expecting specific help in curing me of my leprosy, and what you’re telling me to do is of no help. Yes, it’s good to bathe in the river, but it certainly wouldn’t help me with my problem. Leprosy is a much deeper problem.”

And yet Elisha knew what Naaman needed and so did not change his instructions. The man of God did not focus on Naaman’s specific need, but rather that which would humble him first, and then cure him. I'm sure you know the end of the story, when Naaman humbled himself and submitted to the truth he dunked in the Jordan river 7 times and came up cured.

This is what we are doing at Gospel Growth Ministries. Yes, some will not want to “dunk in the gospel”, especially not seven times (over and over) and will go away mad that we did not address their specific issue in the way they thought we should. And yet this truly is the way to freedom. “Gospel dunking”, over and over, has produced more truly free people over the thousands of years than any specific, problem focused method ever would. This is how people have been finding freedom for two thousand years, long before there ever was a Setting Captives Free or all the numerous programs and methods like it.

It’s difficult to change, I understand that. Jesus said it this way: "And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'The old is better.'" Luke 5:39 (NIV)

And yet the truth is the old is not better; the new wine of the gospel is better, it is just that it is an acquired taste. And Jesus does not allow both to exist together, the old and the new, and simply give people their choice. No, it is the gospel or nothing. We hope you’ll continue “dunking in the gospel river” and see how it would indeed free someone who comes. It just doesn’t free them in the way that they think it should.

I hope this makes sense to you. I appreciate your comments, and as I said above I have wrestled and prayed through this issue for a long time. So you are voicing something I struggled with for many years, and have come down firmly on the side of where we are now.

When He said, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear. Hebrews 8:13 (NASB)

We hope this information is helpful to you. If we can assist further, please let us know.

Webservant Setting Captives Free

There are a number of men in our congregation who, in the hard work of sanctification, have been greatly helped by the very curricula Mike Cleveland now is apologizing for. How sad.

Likely, here on Baylyblog there will soon be more about this sad reversal by Mike Cleveland and the two men who serve as his board.

Friday, August 14, 2015

I've Got A Mansion

I've Got A Mansion
If you have ever had to live in an unfinished house or “live out of boxes”, you know it is a frustration. It is a trial that requires a great deal of patience.

What a wonderful thought to me as one who has done the “box thing” and lived in “unfinished” housing. Jesus said He has gone to prepare a place for me. It is a promise from the Savior’s lips. When it is ready for me, he’ll call me home. I won’t have to pack. Everything I need will be there. Everything will be completely finished and furnished. I remember, too, that He said there are many mansions. I’ve got an address. I have a reservation. Yes, beloved, that is a comfort (John 14:1-6).

Thomas, as always, showed some doubts. He didn’t know where Jesus was going … so how could he know the way.

Jesus said, lovingly, “I am the way.”

There is that echo that came from the Sea of Galilee when He called His disciples … He was saying once again, “Follow Me."

There is a precious story of a little boy who got lost in the city streets. Darkness was beginning to fall and the child became afraid. An old gentleman stopped to help and asked the child, “where is your home?”

The little boy replied, “I don’t know, I’m lost. But if you can just take me to the corner where the church is with the big cross I can find my way home.”

Dear One, the Cross of Jesus always points toward home. What a comfort. What a joy. What a promise. E.J. Swanson

Father, it is a comfort to know that someday we will be able to dwell with you. We know that because of the loving sacrifice of your Son, Jesus, this is possible. The cross helped make it possible for me to get home. Thank you, Father. “Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Weekend Getaway

For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. (Hebrews 4:10 NAS)

Weekend Getaway
A public holiday on a Friday. That’s an extended weekend break!

Alfred thought to himself, his heart leaping for joy as his mind started planning.

"Honey, let's get away over the weekend," Alfred suggested to his wife.

"Not unless our grandchildren are taken care of," Sue answered.

"Don't worry about them, Mom," said Gail with her husband by her side. "Tom and I will take care of the kids."

Not wanting to travel too far away from home, the older couple decided to just leave the busy city to a small town—Corning, in Steuben County. Besides visiting the famed Corning Museum of Glass, exploring the picturesque Finger Lakes region, and enjoying the fabulous food of various cultures, Alfred and Sue found rest during their weekend away.

Rest is what all of us need. A break from our routines to spend time to rest, refresh and refocus can do a lot more good than we realize. Regardless how busy we are, we must make time to rest.

The Epistle to the Hebrews mentioned a rest for the people of God. All of us who have received Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior have been given that rest because of our Lord’s finished work on the cross. We ought therefore to be diligent to enter that rest so that we might not fall (Hebrews 4:9-11).

Are we finding it hard to rest because we are too busy trying to do so many things by our own effort? Are we casting our care on the Lord and committing everything we do to Him?

God’s word exhorts us to cast our anxieties to the Lord who will sustain us. Commit to the Lord whatever we do, and He will establish our plans (1 Peter 5:7; Psalm 55:22; Proverbs 16:3).

Dear Lord, thank You for giving us rest through Your finished work on the cross. Help us not overwork ourselves trying to prove our worth through works, for we know it is not by our effort but by Your grace and unmerited favor that You have chosen to bless us. We commit to You all that we do and cast all our anxieties on You, for You are the One who establishes our plans and have given us rest.